FAU Submarine Team “Absolute Speed”

Human Powered Submarine Takes First in Speed at the 10th International Submarine Race

BOCA RATON, FL (July 2, 2009) – Florida Atlantic University’s Human Powered Submarine Team won first place for speed and second in the overall competition at the 10th International Submarine Race (ISR) that was held at one of the world’s largest indoor tanks – the United States Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Carderock Division David Taylor Model Basin in Bethesda, Maryland June 22 – 26.

The submarine race is a contest that began in 1989 and has grown to include the participation of universities, colleges, corporations, research centers, high schools and privately sponsored teams from the North America and Europe. Teams consist of student athlete/engineers, wearing scuba gear as the subs are “wet”, meaning filled with water, who provide propulsion and navigation as their subs run submerged along a 100-meter measured course against the clock.

The goal is to design an underwater vehicle that can be powered successfully by scuba-clad teams without malfunctioning, crashing into the bottom, popping to the surface or simply failing to move through the water. The principal objective is education: encouraging innovation in the use of materials, hydrodynamic design, buoyancy, propulsion and underwater life support.

The 21-team competition, included  teams from Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Maine, Maryland, Washington and Michigan, as well as teams from Canada, England, Venezuela and the private sponsors.

FAU’s one-man propeller driven submarine named the Talon 1 reached a final speed of 6.298 knots which was the fastest speed of any submarine in any category earning them the “Absolute Speed” award. The team placed second in the overall team competition winning $1250 in prize money to put towards the next sub.

“Participating in ISR races inspire and motivate ocean engineering undergraduates,” said Manhar Dhanak, chair of the FAU department of ocean engineering. “Winning one with such flair matures them overnight, full of confidence and sense of purpose. The win puts FAU in the limelight again in the ocean community. The faculty and staff at FAU are so proud of the team’s achievement.”

The eight person team made up of all ocean engineering students with the exception of Shawn Wilt who is a mechanical engineer, are team captains George Valdes and Joe Alderton, Skyler Bryan, Jason McCullough, Danielle Kolber, Charlotte George and Everett Jones. The team was also aided by alumni Justin Stewart, Tony Lavigne and  Dr. Edgar An, professor of ocean engineering at FAU.

“Throughout all the trials and tribulations, building a submarine takes a lot of dedication, however it takes a lot of heart to make a successful team, and I think our team this year had that heart and the drive to push through the competition and succeed,” said Valdes.

FAU set its first official speed record in the ISR in June 1991. In 2005, at the 8th ISR the team placed 2nd overall in performance, claiming six out of nine possible awards—breaking FAU’s fastest time with 6.1 knots—with a 15-year-old retiring submarine and former Guinness world record holder.  The races were originally launched by FAU Ocean Engineering in 1989 off the Riviera Beach coast. Later, the competition was moved to the Maryland site. The present team raised funds and built the new boat that competed in the 2009 race.

For more information, contact Dr. Edgar An at 561-297-2792, or Charollette George at 561-886-8919.


Florida Atlantic University‘s College of Engineering and Computer Science is committed to providing accessible and responsive programs of education and research recognized nationally for their high quality. Course offerings are presented on-campus, off-campus, and through distance learning in bioengineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, geomatics engineering, mechanical engineering and ocean engineering.  For more information about the college, please visit www.eng.fau.edu.